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University Lighting Research Center Gains Industry Backers

Blue LED lights (Alexofdodd/Wikipedia)


The Smart Lighting Engineering Research Center (ERC) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York has drawn 21 industrial partners to help guide the center’s research programs and move its findings from the lab bench to the marketplace. ERC began in 2008 with funding from National Science Foundation, and is led by Rensselaer.

The center’s mission is to develop new light-emitting diode (LED) technologies and applications for lighting devices and systems with more functions and higher performance. ERC’s vision of smart lighting systems, says director Robert Karlicek is “to revolutionize lighting by creating immersive lighting systems that can sense their environment to provide new levels of energy efficiency, health and safety benefits, and enhanced workplace productivity.”

The popular image of LEDs is as a long-lived, energy-efficient heir to incandescent light bulbs. However, LED and related solid-state lighting technology offer the potential to control, manipulate, and use light in entirely new ways. Smart lighting systems can, for example, provide high speed data access and scan for biological and biochemical hazards.

Of the 21 industry participants, 10 companies are full members, while 11 are affiliate members. The industry participants range from major lighting companies, such as Osram Sylvania, to start up enterprises. The companies provide university students with first-hand experience in entrepreneurship as well as corporate research and development. The university says two ERC students have started a new company based on ERC technology and will be supported this summer by a Boston-based venture capital firm.

In addition to Rensselaer, ERC’s university partners include Boston University and University of New Mexico, as well as outreach relationships with Howard University in Washington, DC, Morgan State University in Baltimore, and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana.

Read more: Researchers Improve Efficiency of LED Lighting

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